Welsh Government say sporting events to be played behind closed doors from Boxing Day as omicron cases rise
Welsh Government have announced sporting events will be played behind closed doors from Boxing Day in Wales to help control the spread of the new omicron variant.
Economy Minister Vaughan Gething announced the new measures for indoor and outdoor sporting events stating “the latest figures showed a further steep rise in the number of confirmed cases of the fast-moving variant”.
He also confirmed a £3m Spectator Sports Fund will be available to support clubs and sporting venues affected by the new measures to protect public health. Further details about the fund will be available following discussions with the sector.
The Economy Minister said: “Sporting events over the Christmas period are one of the big highlights of the year. Unfortunately, the new omicron variant is a significant development in the pandemic and could cause a large number of infections.
“We need to do everything we can to protect people’s health and control the spread of this awful virus.
“Throughout the pandemic we have followed scientific and public health advice to keep people safe. The advice is clear – we need to act now in response to the threat of omicron. We are giving people as much notice of these decisions as we can.
“Crowds will come back as soon as possible. We want everyone to be here to enjoy their favourite sports.”
The decision comes as some football clubs have already announced Christmas matches have been postponed because of cases of Covid-19 in their squads. Cardiff City FC is postponing its Boxing Day match against Coventry City due to several cases of Covid-19 in its playing squad and staff and Newport County won’t be playing Forest Green for similar reasons.
Locally, in the Welsh Premier League, Flint Town United are playing Connah’s Quay Nomads in a Flintshire derby on Boxing Day, the game would have likely attracted a crowd in excess of 1,000. The teams will play each other in the reverse fixture at the Deeside Stadium on News Years day,
Welsh Government say “The latest figures show omicron cases are rising quickly in all parts of Wales. The overall rate of coronavirus infections is also rising in Wales and now stands at just under 550 cases per 100,000 people.”
The latest Omicron figures for North Wales for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board area stand at 67, up 24 on previous released numbers.
The First Minister last week warned of a “gathering storm” of omicron infections after the Christmas period as some strengthened measures were introduced from 27 December, as readers will know includes the now legal requirement to work from home via a new law creating the “Offence of failing to work from home where reasonably practicable to do so” with a ‘reasonable excuse’ needed.
Welsh Government added, “The coronavirus regulations, including playing sports behind closed doors, will be reviewed regularly.”
Responding to the announcement Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for sport, Heledd Fychan MS said,
“Our sports thrive with public support, and it’s a cruel twist that so coronavirus thrives in crowds as well.
“I welcome the financial support on offer to sporting venues and clubs as they once again are forced to operate behind closed doors. It’s really important we support sports clubs, particularly at the grassroots level, as the wellbeing benefits of coming together in support of a team is too important to risk losing.
“This will be a particular blow for the community events that will have been arranged for the holiday period. I urge the Welsh Government to keep this under regular review, particularly for events that take part in the open air.”
The Football Association of Wales said it is “aware of the news of new Welsh Government restrictions to spectator sport commencing on Boxing Day.”
“The FAW will now consult with affected clubs, the National League Board and broadcast partners, and will release a further statement in due course.” Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com